"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."
~ John Muir
It is a well established fact that spending time in nature is good for restoring your focus, helping you relax, improving cognitive function, and making you happy. Therefore, one of the easiest ways to increase your time spent outside is to combine time in nature with physical activity.
Whether you are exercising for general health, weight loss or you have athletic aspirations, there is no reason to focus exclusively on performance and outcomes when it comes to physical activity. We need variety and an incorporation of various planes and axes of movement. You don’t need to spend all of your exercise time in a gym.
Here are some specific benefits from incorporating outdoor exercise habits that extend beyond the basic benefits of physical activity.
A good vibes booster
Who doesn’t feel great after an invigorating workout? It is pretty much a given that exercising helps to improve a person’s mood. Without a doubt, when you get your body moving, the dopamine and endorphins start flowing! What’s more, exercising outside actually increases this effect, giving your mood a greater lift, and a boost to the self-esteem, then exercise performed indoors. It has been shown that even a brief walk in the park can result in more positive feelings!
Interestingly, outdoor exercise tends to reduce your rate of perceived exertion, meaning that a brisk walk outdoors feels less strenuous than walking on a treadmill. It follows, then, that the environment you spend time in has a substantial effect on how you feel. And if you don’t feel good, what you’re doing feels harder. When a goal for physical activity is to make it fun, take it outdoors and the natural environment is likely to enable this fun by making it feel less difficult.
Consistency is everything
When you choose to take your exercise routine outdoors, it greatly adds to your enjoyment, making it more likely that you’ll be excited about participating in physical activity, and therefore more likely to stick to a regular fitness program. If it’s more likely to make you participate often, and it makes you happy, this seems to be a pretty strong positive feedback loop!
Variety is the spice of life
Exercising outdoors is never needs to be mundane or repetitious. Just think about it! While running or walking a trail, the scenery is constantly changing with the seasons, or is a welcome change from your indoor habitat. And there’s always a chance to observe all manner of wild life! What’s more, a trail requires you to stay present, paying attention to your surroundings, in contrast to mindlessly trudging on a treadmill. Change things up by doing hill sprints, leaping up and down bleachers, or climbing on the monkey bars in the kids playground. Bring a kettle bell or a jump rope, or just do your regular bodyweight training routine. Think up novel ways to make your activities both fun and challenging! You can read more about it here.
Our bodies require vitamin D to remain healthy, but unfortunately, we don't produce it naturally. However, twenty minutes outside is enough sun exposure for an average adult. Studies have shown that individual who exercise outside feel more revitalized, have increased energy levels, and feel more satisfied, while experiencing decreased levels of tension, depression and anger.
Exercising in this way keeps it fresh and fun, while exposing you to new and varied natural environments. If this convinces you to take your indoor work outs into the great outdoors, you find that you'll never grow bored with your exercise routine again!